The Benefits of Listening to That Voice in Your Head

“You got to be trustworthy.  You got to be not a snitch.  You got to be tough,” said Louie. Growing up on the streets of Bakersfield, California Louie didn’t care what he had to do to get accepted. “You got to be willing to do some things that maybe some of the other guys aren’t willing to do and that’s part of climbing up the ladder.  And so that’s part of the hustle. When you show that you starting getting favor and trust,” said Louie.

His father left when he was 1-year old and by the time he was in high school, several step-fathers had made their way in and out of his life. None of them showed any affection to a boy desperately needing a dad.  “It was the male figure coming into my life and leaving….So, at one point as a kid you say to yourself I’m going to put up a wall.”  That day came when he was 15.

“My third stepfather, which has been in the house the longest at this point, came and gave my sister a Christmas present at my aunt’s house and didn’t give me anything. He didn't acknowledge me at all, after we’ve been together 9 years.  That was the day I said It doesn’t even matter what happens to me anymore.”

So Louie dropped out of high school and started hustling, stealing and dealing drugs for money.  By his early 20s he had a lengthy criminal record that included robbery, assault and dealing drugs. He also had money, street credibility and the respect of gang members but he says something was missing.  “You have money, you have nice cars and you got homies.  You put on this front. You might be tough and you might have it all in control but inside you’re just—you’re empty.”

Trying to fill the void, Louie found a way to make more money running guns across state lines in exchange for drugs. But with each deal, he thought more and more about the cost he would ultimately pay.  

“I had to sit back and say Okay, now this could go bad; how am I going to make sure that I’m not going to get killed today?  There’s no winning on either decision. Today you may be killed or you may have to kill somebody else. It’s horrible. You know your mind is so gone on the streets that this even makes sense to somebody. You know that you need a change, a big change, and that your life is lost. You know this is a proof that there’s an empty person inside there.”

At age 29, Louie was arrested and a plea bargain got him 3 years. While serving time, he thought about the direction he’d taken in life. “I achieved everything I was looking for. I got scars all over me. I got eternal scars. I’ve got the battle scars. I’ve got the friends that are dead and murdered in life. I achieved it all.  You just realize when you achieve it that it’s not really what you were looking for,” he said.

In the solitude of his prison cell, Louie says he heard something.  “I heard a voice say, Go to church with your great-grandmother. That’s all it would say over and over, throughout the day, and throughout the week. So one day to shut it up…I just said, ‘Okay, I’ll go.”

After serving his time, Louie kept his word.  “I was in the halfway house on Union Avenue, Bakersfield, CA. My grandma invited me to church.  The atmosphere was heavy and it was love.  And I remember it coming down almost like a cloud.  It just set over me. And that voice spoke to me and said, I’ve tamed a lot tougher than you.  So, I went down and gave my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. I felt like I had freedom. I felt like I was forgiven.”

Louie started building a life centered around Christ and over the years became the man, husband, and father he always hoped he to be.  “You start to blossom into a person that God always intended you to be and the weirdest thing is, you never realized that you could be that way,” said Louie.  

With a daughter now in college, Louie and his wife Sara are raising their son.  Louie makes sure both his children understand they are loved. “I always go in and I tell them I love them. And I’m proud of them. Both of my kids asked, How come you do this? I said ‘Because I never had this when I was a kid.  I want to make sure you know the love of Jesus Christ.”

He shares his story with youth and men with similar pasts. People who knew Louie before, say the change is real.  Dennis Sterk is a former detective responsible for his arrest.  Today, he calls Louie a friend.  “If you’ve known him before and you know him now, there’s a big change. A big change.  He found the Lord. Louie’s not all talk. It was a change,” said Sterk.

“My life is complete in so many ways because of the love of God. The way I found Christ at the altar and the freedom He gave me, if that’s all He ever did for me, I’m okay with that. That was what I was looking for in the first place,” said Louie.

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